How to Make Pesto!

Hello everyone! It’s been a few months since I’ve posted anything, but now that I’ve finished graduate school, I have more time to write! Today’s post is about how to make pesto, and some variations you can make to your pesto to personalize it to ingredients you like or currently have in your kitchen. If you’d like a voiceover video of this content to listen to, please click this YouTube link to watch/listen to the video clip I made on how to make pesto!

If you’d just like to read the information, it’s all below. I hope you enjoy this post on how to make pesto and make lots of delicious food on your own happy and healthy adventure. 🙂 ❤

The Traditional Recipe

  • Basil
  • Pine nuts
  • Parmesan
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Salt & Pepper

What you ABSOLUTELY Need

  • Something green
  • A type of nut (or seed)
  • A type of cheese (preferably a salty, hard cheese)
  • Citrus (acid)
  • Oil
  • Seasonings (garlic and S & P need to be in every recipe)

Basil Alternatives (Something Green)

  • Arugula
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
    • This is just a few options–there are so many leafy green vegetables and herbs out there to use!
    • You can combine 2+ green items in your pesto–you’re not just limited to 1!

Pine nut Alternatives (Nuts)

  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Almonds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
    • Again, this is just a short list!
    • Make sure any nut you choose in unsalted and unroasted–this pesto is going to impart so much flavor and you don’t want a salted, roasted nut to take over!
    • Avoid peanuts–they have such a strong flavor and will be overpowering
    • If there is a nut allergy present, opt for a seed or omit nuts altogether

Parmesan Alternatives (Cheese)

  • Asiago
  • Grana Padano
  • Pecorino Romano
  • Gorgonzola
  • Manchego
  • Mozzarella
    • You can use a creamy, soft cheese but know that if you use a creamy cheese, this will result in a creamy pesto
    • If you are wanting to make this pesto dairy-free, vegetarian, and/or vegan, omit the cheese

Fresh Lemon Juice Alternatives (Citrus/Acid)

  • Bottled lemon juice
  • Lime (fresh or bottled)
  • Grapefruit
  • Yuzu
    • Pesto needs an acidic component to cut through the cheese and saltiness
    • You can use orange, but you’ll need to balance it with salt because it is sweet compared to a lemon or a lime
    • If citrus isn’t available (time of year, access), then use another type of acid such as vinegar (white wine, red wine, etc.)

Olive Oil Alternatives (Oil)

  • Canola or vegetable oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Sesame oil
    • The type of oil you choose to use has to be pourable–if you use something like coconut oil, you would need to melt it to a liquid and drizzle it in. Coconut oil is a strong flavor so I would avoid using it
    • The oil acts as an emulsifier–essentially, it helps to make blending all of the ingredients easier


  • As mentioned earlier, garlic and S & P should always be a part of any pesto
  • If you don’t like garlic or are sensitive to it, then you can leave it out
  • Some additional seasoning ideas:
    • If you like spice, add chili pepper flakes or paprika
    • Add onion (fresh, paste, powdered)
    • Dried herbs

Tips for Making Pesto

  • Use a blender or food processor for an easy process
  • Place all of your ingredients in your appliance and then slowly drizzle in the olive oil
  • Make it chunky! It shouldn’t be a puree, but you should be able to see flecks of your greens, nuts, cheese, and garlic
  • Make extra and store the remainder in an airtight container
  • If it’s too thick and/or it’s too oily, add a touch of water to thin it out

Dishes to Make with Pesto

  • Chicken (marinate or spoon on top)
  • Fish (great with salmon)
  • Pasta (use it as a sauce)
  • On potatoes (roasted, baked)
  • On vegetables (great with mushrooms, cauliflower)
  • And more! It’s incredibly versatile

One thought on “How to Make Pesto!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s